Abandoned by the state....
Christie Blatchford is doing the country a huge service by running a series of columns on our dual justice system...
Eyes filling with tears of shame, Caledonia resident Dave Brown yesterday told an Ontario Superior Court judge how in the spring of 2006, he sat night after night in his underwear, a shotgun between his legs, braced to defend his family during the sometimes violent native occupation of disputed land cheek-by-jowl with his home.
"I didn't know fear in my life until April 20," Mr. Brown said, referring to the day of a failed police raid in which the OPP were driven off the development then known as Douglas Creek Estates while native protesters who had been occupying the land for the two months previous furiously threw up makeshift barricades, blocking two public roads with piles of burning tires, loads of gravel and a jackknifed tractor trailer, effectively turning Mr. Brown and his family into their prisoners.
The OPP never returned to the disputed land, basically ceding it to the Six Nations occupiers until the Ontario government bought out the developer in July for about $12-million and let the status quo stand.
"When the barricades went up and we had no police," Mr. Brown said, "I really thought I was going to die. I really thought they were going to do something to us."
It was when the 42-year-old former heavy equipment operator was describing how he and wife Dana Chatwell had to ship out their teenage son, Dax, to live with another family for six weeks that Mr. Brown's shaky composure crumbled.
"Our life just turned around," he said. "I was watching my wife, with no job after all the work she did [Ms. Chatwell had just opened up a hair salon after a $30,000 renovation to the basement of their house], bent over like she was hemorrhaging, asking God why her son couldn't live with her."
Outside, chanting and drumming from the protesters was relentless, he said, threats and trespassing onto his property a daily occurrence, and with much of the most overt lawlessness - among the undisputed incidents, natives burned down a wooden bridge, threw a car over an overpass, terrorized anyone who strayed close to the site for a look, including an elderly couple and out-of-town police officers, and damaged a hydro transformer to the tune of $1-million - occurring under the very noses of the police, Mr. Brown became afraid to sleep.
He kept watch every night, his border collie Hunter at his side, the dog pacing and barking, Mr. Brown keeping himself awake with drugs (including cocaine and stimulants) and booze.
"One night," he remembered, "I was falling asleep, dozing off, and my shotgun went off and blew a hole right through the roof.
"Dana took my shells away," he said. "She thought I was going to blow my head off.
"What am I going to do?" he cried. "Call the police? You might as well call Ghostbusters."
As he put it plainly another time, "The OPP were not allowed to go past any barricade. They weren't in charge. The lights were on, but nobody was home." Another time he said, "They're [the natives] in charge. The OPP is not in charge. I'm not in charge of when I go to my own home."
The family is suing the Ontario government and the OPP for $7-million, alleging the police in particular owed them a duty of care, yet all but abandoned them to the protesters.